Boogie Chillen: Early Mods’ First-Choice Vinyl (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 156)
This totally absorbing 3-CD set focuses attention on some of the classic blues, soul and R&B tracks which would have delighted the denizens of Britain’s mod clubs during the early 1960s.
The list of contributors reads like a veritable who’s who of the era’s most compelling musical talents, with legendary bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker sharing the limelight with laconic jazzman Mose Allison and raunchy rockers such as Link Wray and Dale Hawkins of Susie-Q fame, to name but a few.
Jacob Cordover: Blackwattle Caprices (Cala CACD 77017)
The first of Jacob’s three projected recordings for Cala Records finds the young Australian classical guitarist in impressively eclectic form.
He tackles pieces as diverse as Tom Waits’ I’m Still Here and William Walton’s Five Bagatelles, which the composer had originally penned for the great Julian Bream.
Toru Takemitsu’s expressive arrangements of Yesterday, Over the Rainbow and Londonderry Air are also given an airing alongside Cordover’s lyrical interpretation of J S Bach’s splendidly Baroque Suite BWV 997.
Florida Georgia Line: Here’s To The Good Times (Island Records)
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelly formed Florida Georgia Line when they were students at Nashville’s Belmont University three years ago, and this delightfully superficial duo’s dreams of achieving pop stardom became a reality with the release of Cruise in the spring of 2012.
This infectious ditty has since gone on to sell in excess of four million downloads, and their eagerly awaited debut album follow a similarly uncomplicated format, blending elements of rock, rap and homespun country to create easy on the ear anthems such as Get Your Shine On, Round Here and Tip It Back.
Andy Fairweather-Low & the Lowriders: Zone-O-Tone (Proper Records)
The Welsh singer and guitarist whose distinctive tones graced Amen Corner’s memorable run of chart successes during the late 60s has since gone on to build an impressive reputation as a highly regarded rock sideman, working with such luminaries as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Roger Waters and The Who over the years.
Andy’s solo career is now limited to the occasional album release and low-key tour, but his tuneful brand of mellow roots music invariably repays closer investigation, and the excellent Zone-O-Tone is thankfully no exception to the rule.
Anna Netrebko: Verdi (D.G.479 1052)
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko pays homage to the musical legacy of Giuseppe Verdi with this selection of extracts from some of the great man’s most dramatic creations. including Il Trovatore, Don Carlo and I Vespri Siciliani.
Netrebko’s voice may be a little too light for some of the challenging roles she tackles here but Verdi marks an interesting change of musical direction for one of opera’s most popular performers and certainly represents a fine addition to the fiery diva’s highly lucrative CD repertoire.
Del Bromham: Nine Yards (Angel Air SJPCD 432)
Demon guitarist Del Bromham was one of the unsung heroes of British rock during his stint with Stray during the early 70s, turning out a string of excellent albums which earned the band a sizeable helping of critical kudos but very little in the way of solid record sales.
A great deal of water has gurgled beneath the proverbial bridge since those days but Del remains a force to be reckoned with, and his new Angel Air album delivers an arresting celebration of the power of the blues, whether it be the acoustic charms of the title tune or the more high octane delights of tracks such as The Ballad of JD, Words or Don’t Throw Your Love Away.
Outfit: Performance (Double Denim Records)
Eclectic Merseysiders Outfit have already been hailed as the missing link between Portishead and Orange Juice. and the quintet’s skilful use of live instrumentation and judicious sampling certainly repays closer investigation if you’re one of those discerning punters who prefer their listening experience to be inventive, haunting and multi-textured.
The group’s eagerly awaited debut album has seemingly been influenced by everything from Talking Heads and Radiohead to German experimentalists Cluster, with the various pieces of this beguiling musical jigsaw falling into place most attractively on the opening and closing tracks Nothing Big and Two Islands.
Winter Mountain (Charcoal Records)
The seeds of this splendid Anglo-Irish collaboration were first sown in a chance meeting at Chicago’s Union Station, when Martin Smyth and Joseph Francis chatted about their musical tastes and discovered a shared passion for the work of outfits such as The Band, Simon and Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
The rest, as the old cliche goes, is history, and their eponymously titled debut album presents a tuneful showcase for the duo’s exquisitely harmonised sound, with Tell Me, Shed A Little Light and Sorrow emerging as the pick of this subtly memorable package.
Just Wailing: 50 Masterpieces by 26 Blues Harmonica Heroes (Fantastic Voyage FVDD157)
This rather superior anthology was compiled and annotated by the highly knowledgeable Neil Slavem and boasts seminal performances from many of the leading lights of the blues harp, including Sonny Pryor, Sonny Boy Williamson and Junior Wells.
Much-recorded gems such as Little Walter’s Juke, Slim Harpo’s I Got Love If You Want It and Billy Boy Arnold’s I Wish You Would sit snugly alongside a string of fascinating obscurities to create a fine introduction to the earthy sound of the harmonica at its most urgent and compelling.
Pascal Roge: Debussy: Clair de Lune (Decca 478 5405)
Decca’s latest archive collection focuses attention on the impressionistic keyboard creations of Claude Debussy, drawing on recordings made by the gifted Parisian pianist Pascal Roge during the late 70s and early 80s.
Many of this trail-blazing composer’s best-loved works are given an airing in the process, including La fille aux cheveux de lin, La cathedrale engloutie and the crowning glory of 1890’s Suite bergamesque, the haunting Claie de Lune.